The Only Path to Peace

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The Only Path to Peace

2 John 3 (CSB) Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

John 14:23–31 (CSB)

23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me., 31 On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me.

Dear Fellow Redeemed: “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” These are the words with which Paul greeted Timothy, and with which I greet you regularly on these Sunday mornings. Grace, mercy and peace are among the gifts God gives us through His word, and the last, His peace He especially mentions as a gift coming to us through the Holy Spirit.

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.

For us, peace is elusive. When we hear “peace,” some think of an end to war, others to personal peace, (Don’t bother me!) still others to the peace of living a blameless life. In my experience I see people in every state of chaos, upheaval, and turbulence of life – the opposite of peace.

Where shall they find peace? Living and dealing with people who constantly disapprove. Living with a bad temper- ours or someone else’s. Living with abusive people. Living with our values under siege. Living with family who keep making wrong choices. “Feeling upset.” Living with anxiety and other emotional upheaval. Walking on eggshells with some people. Where shall we find peace.

Jesus here speaks of …


  1. We Find Peace in Christ Alone
  2. We Find Christ in the Word Alone
  3. In This Way, Christ Gives Us True Peace
  1. We Find Peace in Christ Alone

The world follows many paths in search of peace. The U.N. War to bring peace. Divorce. Psychotherapy. Sociotherapy. Anti-anxiety meds. Counseling. You name it. But the peace of Christ is something different. It is a peace that transcends everything. It is the peace that we can have in the midst of battle, when facing the withering disapproval of others, when suffering from anxiety or depression, or worried you will get sick. The apostles were persecuted struggled with friction in the church, and the pietism and disapproval of others.

The peace of Christ is of a different thing altogether. “27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives,” Jesus said.

Paul wrote to the Philippians about seeking this peace. Understand that he had been persecuted, beaten, stone into unconsciousness, arrested, imprisoned, and threatened with execution. Here is what he taught his people in Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses [transcends] all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7, CSB)

This is an echo of Proverbs 3, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5, CSB)

So you see, this is a matter of faith. We put our trust in Christ. Jesus repeatedly said something like this to His disciples: 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. The disciples would find themselves in horrible situations, persecuted, hated, . Then they were to know that above all, Christ is Lord.

The peace of Christ transcends everything. We have the peace of Christ even when we have no other peace. It is a peace of faith and we can see it in several ways:

  • God loves you whether you feel like it or not, even if you feel condemned.
  • You are forgiven because Christ is risen, even when the Devil, your friends, and even your own conscience condemns you. Yes, even when you ARE guilty.
  • You have a future, even when destitute, even when dying.
  • You have hope, even when there is no hope on earth.
  • When your feelings of anxiety, depression, agitation, and the like overcome you, you can know and believe that the Lord is merciful and that this too, shall pass.
  • When we are lonely, we can take on faith Jesus’ promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you.

That’s what we mean by transcendent. This is the peace of Christ, of knowing Christ, and trusting in His promises. And ….

2.  We Find Christ in the Word Alone

So if Christ alone can bring us to God, how can we find Christ?  Pentecost, this day which we celebrate, is itself the answer – we find Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit – and the Spirit works alone through His word.

This was the point of Jesus’ discussion in our text.  He is answering one of the disciples who asked Him why He made such a point of revealing himself to them, and not to the world at large.  The reason is that He will be leaving; so He says:  25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” His kingdom is the true kingdom of peace, as He is the Prince of Peace. How does His kingdom come? Luther explained it this way, “The kingdom of God comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eter­nity.” The Holy Spirit’s work is to bring God’s kingdom, the kingdom of which Christ is king, to us.

We live, now, in an earthly kingdom, where there is conflict, pan, sorrow, sickness, loss, failures, and sin. The end of life in this kingdom is death, and here there is no peace. But transcending this kingdom is the kingdom which we are part of by faith, and this is the kingdom of life and peace. Her there is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In this kingdom we possess the righteousness of Christ, and are at peace with God.

It is because we are subjects of this kingdom that we can have peace even in a world afflicted with turmoil, conflict, and hostility. It is because this kingdom has come t you by the power of the Holy Sprit that we can rejoice that whatever we suffer from today, deliverance is ours in God’s good time.

As we said, this kingdom comes to us by the Holy Spirit, and He works through His word. As the apostles were the teachers of the church and have written this word, the Holy Spirit is the teachers of the apostles, as Jesus said, 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. So it follows that the apostles taught the word of God, as Paul wrote, “We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. (1 Corinthians 2:13, CSB)

So we find Christ and His peace that transcends the tumult of this world through His word.

3. In This Way, Christ Gives Us True Peace

Because of this, we can be sure of finding peace.  We can be sure of it.  Now the accepted wisdom is that there is no sure thing in this world.  But this word is not of this world.  This is a means of Grace.  This is a way in which God Himself brings His grace to us and bestows it upon us.  We just confessed this in the third article of the creed:  “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith…”

You can be sure of finding forgiveness.  You can be sure of the loving fellowship of God Himself.  You can be sure of being kept in the true faith.  You can be sure of finding the peace that transcends all the conflict and disorder of this life.

Listen to Him speak.  Listen to Him promise, “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37, CSB)

Listen.  Christ prays for you. Christ speaks to you.  He loves you and bids you love Him, and find peace now and forevermore.


By |2020-05-31T13:47:39-07:00May 31st, 2020|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Sign Points to Jesus

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The First Sign Points to the Divinity of Christ

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John 2:1–11 (CSB)

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.”
“What does that have to do with you and me,, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”
“Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.
Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained twenty or thirty gallons.
“Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the headwaiter.” And they did.
When the headwaiter tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom 10 and told him, “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are drunk, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.”
11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Dear fellow redeemed: John Baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, and then, evidently the next day, pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the world’s sins; some of John’s disciples follow Jesus. The next day, Jesus heads to Galilee and calls Philip and Nathaniel. And then on the third day He and his disciples were invited to this wedding in Cana.

This wedding provided the occasion for the third day in a row of Jesus’ entering into his ministry, anointed by God, pointed to by the last Old Testament Prophet, followed by disciples faithful to the promises of old, and now here showing that He is no mere prophet, but the Lord of creation.

This, as the Apostle John, lays it out, is the growing manifestation of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Now remember, this isn’t something you just read on the internet; this is an eyewitness account. As John said in his first letter, 1 John 1:1–4 (CSB) What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, …

This is for us to hold in our hands and to read and to see that the One who set out to reveal Himself as the one chosen and anointed to be our salvation is God in the flesh.


  1. As God
  2. As the Christ
  3. As Savior
  1. As God

I find that many people find it difficult to get beyond reading “religion” and understand that this is history. It is religious, not because it is open to question, or appeals to spiritual feeling, or because religious reality is different from other reality, it is religious because the historical truth that it reveals shows that this man Jesus exercises miraculous, creative power.

We know why John included these events in Cana, as well the others in his gospel. He tells us in John 20:31 “31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

What He gives us first is a very carefully drawn account of the miracle. It isn’t like the so-called miracles of bogus Faith-healers, because the evidence is objective, and the witnesses are what scientists call “double-blind.”

Objective Factual Account

Waterpots: Large. Definitely used for water that day. Not used for wine, no remnant of wine. If there were, it would have been terribly diluted.

The servants filled them with water to the brim. No room to add wine.

Double-Blind Attestation 

The servants only knew about the water, the manager of the feast only knew about the wine. One did not know what the other was doing.

UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS FOR THE DISCIPLES AND FOR US!!  It means that Jesus is able to do what no chemist in the world can do – create one thing from something entirely different.  It means Jesus is not JUST a teacher or a prophet, but He possesses creative power in Himself. He is divine.

The sign of water-into-wine manifests Jesus as God.

      2. As the Christ

But the apostle John writes to show us that He is also the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. As we talked about last week, He is the One chosen to this office of redeemer. This is the significance of these words that seem rather difficult: When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.”
“What does that have to do with you and me,, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”
“Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.

When Mary comes to Jesus with the problem, He tells her that what is going to happen isn’t just about their social situation, but involves something much greater – the time in which He will lay down His life, suffer the torment of hell itself, cast off by God, and redeem the world from sin, death, and hell.

This is what He was chosen, anointed, to do as the Christ. Therefore His solution isn’t just to come up with a strategy to help the embarrassed family, but to communicate with His disciples, who had just begun to follow Him, Who He really is. It doesn’t appear that Jesus upstaged the wedding couple or was conspicuous in what He did. But His disciples saw and knew. 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

The sign of water-into-wine reveals Jesus as the Christ.

As Savior

Now isn’t it interesting that this astounding miracle (it really was!) took place in such a normal, homey setting? The day will come when Jesus will appear as the Lord of all, and the judge of the living and the dead as they are all called before Him. He will utter words of power, and command, judgment and justice.

Philippians 2:10–11 (CSB)

10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

But first He came as Savior.

“Once He came in blessing,
All our ills redressing:
Came in likeness lowly, Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us,
Hope and freedom gave us.” (ELH 141:1)

It is important that Jesus died for you, to make satisfaction for your sins. It is just as important that He lived for – in your place – to live out the righteousness of God that is given to you by faith. So it is not only important that He reveals Himself as Lord, but that shows himself to be in our place, living the daily life of those He came to save. He eats, He sleeps, He deals with the problems of life. He earns his bread as a carpenter until He is supported as a rabbi, a teacher. He attends weddings and supports and encourages a young man and woman as they start out life together.

In short, He is our Savior, our Righteousness.

He lived His life as you do, among sinful family, among imperfect friends, facing the challenges of daily life to provide food, clothing and shelter. The politics in Judea, Galilee, and the Roman empire were difficult, and affected even the lowly. There were taxes and other obligations. There was illness and poverty, there were the fit and able and the wealthy.

By recording these events, John wants you to know that the One we pray to daily, the One we worship, and the One Who comes to us in this word and this sacrament is no less than the true God, but humbled Himself to be no more than one of us, no more than a servant.

So, I can assure you that His righteousness is for YOU. Your life in your family, with all your mistakes and sins and shortcomings, is counted as holy because Christ lived it out for you. Your life as a husband, wife, son, daughter, friend, or any station of life is made holy by our Savior.

This is why we have hope, isn’t it? Like everyone, we have regrets of the things we have done and left undone. We feel shame. But with Christ as our righteousness, we have hope to stand before God, both now and in eternity.

And this is the hope that we have to share with others as well. Do you understand that knowing Christ as He is, you are in a unique position to share this hope with those who are in your life? You have such a hope that the world is crying for, so you have an infinity of joy to offer. Please never forget it.


By |2019-01-18T13:07:45-07:00January 18th, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Does “Messiah” Mean?

Jesus Was Chosen as Our Substitute

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Luke 3:15–17, 21-22 (CSB)

15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that never goes out.”

21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”


Dear fellow redeemed:  How many names do you know for our Savior?  I know people sometimes become confused because we call Him Jesus, Christ, God, Savior, Messiah, Lord, and other names as well.  We use different names to emphasize different aspects of what Jesus has done to save us.

Take “Jesus,” for example.  January 1, eight days after Christmas, is called “The Circumcision and Name Day of Jesus,” because it was on the eighth day that male children were circumcised and also given their names.  He was named Jesus as the angel had commanded Joseph, Matthew 1:21 (CSB) 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The name “Jesus” means “Savior.”

Now, here in our text, we come to know the meaning of the name Christ, “anointed one,” for Here the Lord Jesus was anointed as our replacement, and as the one who would bring forgiveness and salvation to the world.

All that happened here at His baptism.

Here there is a powerful contrast, a powerful juxtaposition: At one and the same time He is anointed as the beloved Son of the Father, and also as one lowly enough to submit to baptism, not as a sinner, but as the One who Isaiah 53:12 (CSB)… was counted among the rebels;       yet he bore the sin of many …

At his Baptism Jesus is clearly MANIFEST as the Messiah,


  1. Announced Already in the Old Testament
  2. Accomplished Now in the New Testament
  3. Anointed as Sinners’ Substitute
  4. OUR Messiah
  5. A Blessed Assurance


  1. Announced Already in the Old Testament

This title of Christ makes a direct link back to the Old Testament. The word “Christ” is Greek. “Messiah” is Hebrew.  Both words mean “Anointed” or “Chosen”. He is the descendent of Eve that was promised to Eve in the Garden of Eden after our first Parents brought us all under the influence of Sin. Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Christ Baptized is the same Christ, the same Messiah foretold throughout the history of the promise: to Noah, to Abraham, and, as an example, to Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, mychosen one in wham I delight; I will put my Spirit on him . . .

The anointing of the Christ (the anointed one, the Messiah) is so central a point of prophecy that it was with that Word that He was known to all who awaited the fulfillment of their hope. He was called the MESSIAH, the anointed one, the chosen one. It was in this way that the disciples spoke of Him, John 1:41 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

     2. Accomplished Now in the New Testament

What was prophesied in the Promises of God, was fulfilled in Christ. It was fulfilled first of all at His conception, as Paul explained to the Galatians (4:4) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

He was chosen for this purpose, even then, though the time of His public ministry had not yet come.

It was here, at His Baptism, that the truth was proclaimed, especially for John the Baptist, who also saw it. 21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

Jesus talked about Himself as the Anointed One, using the words of Isaiah 61, Luke 4:18

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,

Peter  put it this way as quoted in Acts 10:38   …God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Do you see why all of this is important? While people today might be convinced by other evidence (or today go with their feelings!), truth itself demands that the Messiah, the anointed one, be, well, anointed! So He was, and so it is written.


     3.  Anointed as Sinners’ Substitute

What office was He anointed into? Anointing was reserved for kings as well as some priests and prophets.

Here He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and set before all as the Son of God, and the Sinner’s Substitute.

Right from the first, there was no doubt as to who this chosen one was; who He had been from eternity.

No ordinary dove, this dove came from an opened heaven. Because we are spiritually blind, Heaven is ordinarily closed to us. Only occasionally is it opened so that any can see. It was from this unmistakable heaven, not a mere sky, that the dove came.

As Luther remarks, the dove is the sign of peace and reconciliation, which are the work of the Holy Spirit, who brings us to faith and keeps us in the faith.

And there came with the anointment an announcement as to what the anointment was for. As God’s Son Christ is sent out, as no less than God Himself, to do battle with our old adversary the Devil. This is a divine work, and it is the Second person of the Trinity Himself who undertakes this work.

The doctrine of the trinity, and Christ’s position as a person of the Trinity, cannot be more clearly declared.

It was true God who was chosen.  But what was He chosen for? To be our Substitute!  In his Gospel, Matthew records John the Baptist’s attempt to deter Christ, but Christ replied, Matthew 3:15 (CSB) 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized.

But even though He kept the law, He came as our substitute sinner as well. As Isaiah 53:12 says, “He was numbered among the transgressors…”

He took the place of us sinners and replaced our sin with His righteousness. Was His goodness sufficient? The Father Himself said so: And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

Because we are sinners, this means everything to us.  Day by day we face our sin, as Jesus has called us to do, to pray, “Forgive us our sins.”

This isn’t a trivial command.  This world is a mess because of sin – our sin.  Weeds.  Sickness.  Sorrow.  Loneliness.  Poverty.  Disaster.  Don’t think for a minute that these have nothing to do with you.  They are judgments upon the world for sin, and our sin too.

And of course, our sin brings upon us the curse of death – and after death the judgment.

That is why it is so important that Jesus is …

     4. OUR Messiah

When we speak of the anointing of Christ, we are not speaking of some interesting event in the life of Christ, We are talking about Christ being Chosen for you, and for me.

Christ was Chosen to be obedient for us.

Christ was chosen to be counted as the sinner for us – the one who was blamed, the scapegoat for our sins.

He is OURS because we are joined to him by faith, as the Bible says, “Whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life,” and

He is OURS because we are joined to Him in Baptism. for the promise is, Galatians 3:26–27 (CSB) 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.

27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.

He is OURS because we are joined to Him in the Lord’s Supper.  For in the sacrament of the altar we show forth for our own comfort, and before the whole world, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has redeemed the world.

     5. A Blessed Assurance

So what does this anointing of Christ do for us? It gives us the most blessed assurance, that the one who took our place to do battle with sin and death itself was none other than God Himself, who guaranteed victory.

And He not only defeated Satan, but through baptism took our place that we might share in the victory over death and in the certainty of everlasting life.




By |2019-01-11T19:50:08-07:00January 11th, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual 911 Entry #1

The Pastor – Spiritual First-responder.

1. The relationship between pastor and people is something God has created. (The Pastor and his flock.)

Scripture tells us that there are many relationships in our lives that God has defined. Parents, for example, are charged with the physical well-being of their families (1 Timothy 5:8). This is so widely understood that parent who don’t will face serious criminal charges. It is also true that parents are charged with the spiritual care of their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

These are not contractual relationships, they exist by the nature of things, by God’s order.

In the great spiritual battle that continues in this world, many deny this. Some will say, for example, that the raising of children is fundamentally the responsibility of the state, and not the parents. This part of the “progressive” agenda has become law in communist countries and in much of Europe.

The erosion of the pastor’s responsibilities has gone much farther, so that many churches look at the pastor as some sort of celebrity leader or C.E.O.

But God’s word says that when He calls us to faith and leads us into a Christian congregation, that we have certain obligations to Him, and this includes the obligation to listen to our pastors. He makes this abundantly clear in Hebrews 13:17(NKJV), “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

This is mirrored in the direction that He gives to the pastors through His apostle, Paul, in Acts 20:28 (CSB), “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.”

This makes the faithfulness of the pastor a most important consideration, and is why I say that the pastor is “The guy that stays awake nights, concerned for the souls of his people.

So as we learn from the Bible how God cares for us through our pastors, it will be with the understanding that it is not just a useful option, but our Lord’s order and His blessing.

By |2019-02-06T09:04:36-07:00January 4th, 2019|Good News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual 911 – Entry #0

The Pastor – Spiritual First-responder.

Most people will answer that question based on their experiences: TV or Radio preachers, appearances in movies or on TV, what we see of a pastor on a Sunday morning, or a general impression based on a smattering of associations.

Here is my informal definition: Your pastor is the guy that stays up late at night concerned for your soul. The more formal definition comes from Scripture, when Paul tells the elders (pastors) at Ephesus what is expected of them, Acts 20:28 (CSB) “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.”

Another description of the pastor comes from the German, seelsorger, which means soul-healer. This reflects the fact that we sustain spiritual and moral injuries in our lives and our pastor is the one who is to provide treatment according the direction of the Great Physician and Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Many Christians express surprise when they discover that our Lord has sent their pastor to visit them when they are in the hospital, to counsel them when they are dealing with family difficulties, to comfort them when they lose someone they love, to seek them when they go astray, to warn them about false teachers, and more.

In this series I will be discussing some of the various characteristics of the pastoral office as Jesus created it so that His people can benefit from the good that He has provided for us.

Here are some of the topics coming up:

  1. The relationship between pastor and people is something God has created. (The Pastor and his flock.)
  2. The pastor is accountable to God, first of all.
  3. The pastor is an elder.
  4. The pastor is an overseer
  5. The pastor is a shepherd
  6. Treating spiritual injuries
  7. Moral injuries
  8. When to call the pastor
  9. The pastor in the church
  10. The pastor among his people
  11. The pastor in the community.

(Illustration from

By |2019-02-06T09:06:23-07:00January 4th, 2019|Good News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Universal Law, Universal Fall, Universal Savior

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The Star Didn’t Just Shine on the Magi


Matthew 2:1–12 (CSB)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah:
Because out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.,

Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him.”,

After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.


Dear fellow redeemed:  You may very well have noticed that a text like today’s is included for a particular reason that guides our approach.  Today is the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord, the feast commemorating the epiphany or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.  It is also called the “Christmas of the Gentiles” and in some parts of Christendom it is the pinnacle of the Christmas cycle.

The meaning of the text is one thing and its significance is another.  The meaning is simple and straightforward.  It is an account of Magi from the east, from Babylonia or Persia, seeing a star appear and concluding that it signified the birth of the great and long-awaited king of the Jews.  They traveled to the Jewish capital, Jerusalem, to do honor to Him and were in turn directed by Scripture and by the star to the place where Jesus was.

Matthew also alludes to the historical situation: Herod the Great has brutally killed supposed rivals, including some from his own family.  His attempt to destroy the Messiah as a possible rival will lead to the “slaughter of the innocents,” the killing of all boys two years and younger in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

That’s the simple meaning.  That’s what happened.  We see what God did in bringing out this star, what believers like the Magi did, and what atrocities the unbelieving Herod committed.

But its significance goes beyond this and is revealed in Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah 60:3 (ESV)  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Jesus isn’t just for the Jews, …



I. Revealed So by God
II. Worshiped As Such by the Magi

  1. Revealed So by God

One of the ways that the old Liar separates people from the hope of the gospel is by casting religion as merely a cultural phenomenon.  That’s the unofficial religious position of our culture today.  I violate that concept every time I greet you at the beginning of a sermon, “Dear fellow redeemed,” because I am declaring that whoever you are in the world, whatever your language, race, color, or culture, Christ is your redeemer.

To say otherwise, to say that Christianity is just a cultural phenomenon, is to deny the universality of sin and the universality of our salvation. It reduces them from divine truth to personal opinion. The world (a Scriptural term meaning everything in the world opposed to Christ), the world wants to compartmentalize this universal truth. In Muslim and in communist countries you may believe such things, but not teach them or actually live according to them.

This is an agenda of “progressivism” in our country too, dividing “religious” from “secular.” The social theory is that you get to exercise your religion only in church, but outside in other organizations you can be required to violate God’s word and you have no choice.  Ask Hobby Lobby’s owners who are forced to pay for abortion drugs for their employees, even though they oppose it.

But if that is bad, then what’s worse is the prohibition of the gospel.  If God’s law isn’t universal, then the gospel isn’t either.  But He IS both Lord of all and Savior of ALL.

So you see the significance in the star that is seen by people elsewhere in the world than in Judea and Galilee. Think about that!  You see the significance of the fact that the Magi saw the star and believed the promise it represented. As God told Abraham, in his seed ALL the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Matthew gives us only the broad outlines necessary to grasp this.  He doesn’t tell us much about the wise men, the Magi (cf. “magician) other than that they were from the East.  They were evidently among the great scholars and observers of Persia or Babylon.  The prophet Daniel was probably one of them.  We still have some incredibly accurate star maps from antiquity that shows how great their knowledge of the heavenly bodies really was. Recently scholars uncovered trig tables that were more accurate than ours. These were not superstitious tribesmen but great scholars.

Their celestial and mathematical knowledge was complemented by the knowledge gleaned from the Jews during their exile in Babylon.  They must have been aware of prophecies like that from Numbers 24:17, I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.  Evidently Daniel also was even able to ascertain when the Messiah was to appear, so that his colleagues anticipated it.

The bottom line is that God announced to the wider world the birth of His Son so that all of us might hear and know the truth of those words, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”  So God has clearly revealed His son as Savior and Lord of all.


2. Worshiped As Such by the Magi

And He was worshipped as Savior and Lord of all by the Magi.  Their faith is shown above all in that they worshipped this little child without hesitation.  They weren’t put off by his poverty, by his social circumstances, or by his infancy.

Doesn’t this teach us something today? How many people judge Christ according to His circumstances? He comes to us in His word and sacrament in places like this, in house churches in China, in ruins in Syria and Iraq. People reject him because there are no trappings of “success,” because of the people He is found with, His pastors, and disciples, the music or worship that, while rich in His word and therefore in Him, isn’t the “right style.”

And then there are the “feelings” and the “experience,” that isn’t exciting, warm & fuzzy, or “inspirational.” Jesus is your savior, whether you feel like it or not, and that’s a good thing.

Whether or not He met some expectations or other, they worshipped Him.

That is an astounding fact to absorb.  What would we have thought of them if they had just gone on their way without comment?  “And they returned to the East with a few reflections upon the condition of the roads.”  “And they returned to the East in time for the annual games in the Babylon Hippodrome.”  “And they returned to the East wondering why they had made the trip.” “And they returned to the East kinda disappointed and underwhelmed at the impression Jesus made on them.”

That seems to be the way many observe Christmas. Consider that these wise men can travel for perhaps two-three months one way to worship the Christ child, and that some cannot travel 30 minutes to worship Him at least some time during the 12 day festival.

They worshipped Him.  That is in itself an astounding fact.  In the hierarchical society of the ancient world for someone of stature to humble himself before another was a huge thing.  But they did this because they believed that He is indeed their Lord.

So He is also our Lord.  He is the One who has the absolute right to command what we must do.  Now who here likes being told what to do? “Lordship” is not a big part of American culture. Our experience with people who think we should do what they say because of who they are – some elite or other – is decidedly negative.

Many frankly feel the same about God. People resent Him. The challenge Him in his commands about our personal life: Whose body is it anyway?  Marriage, family, virtues of chastity, humility, chivalry, respect, honesty, courage, faith and the like – are all so “old fashioned.”  But they are what our Lord asks of – ALL.

So again, they worshipped Him.  That is an astounding fact.  In the hierarchical society of the ancient world for someone of stature to humble himself before another was a huge thing.  But they did this because they believed that He is indeed their SAVIOR.  There is no other reason to account for their devotion other than the fact that this same LORD whom mankind has offended is also the SAVIOR of mankind.

That means He is also your redeemer, whoever you are.  He is the redeemer of everybody who lives in Medford or Grants Pass, or the Pacific Northwest, or on the North American Continent, or in the Amazon Basin, or on the tundra of Siberia, or the subcontinent of India.

THE CHRIST CHILD IS THE LORD AND SAVIOR OF ALL THE WORLD, and he is manifested as such here before the Magi and, through the Word of God, to the whole world.




By |2019-01-03T17:26:48-07:00January 3rd, 2019|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Jesus Lives Out Your Obedience

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Where is Jesus’ Father’s House?

1.  Growing Up a Lowly Man
2.  Special in Obedience and Service
3.  To Give Us Righteousness
Luke 2:41-52

Luke 2:41–52 (CSB)

41 Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them.

 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Dear fellow redeemed, purchased for God by the child who was and is God in the flesh:  Last week we met Jesus, in the manger, born of Mary, His mother, but with no one who corresponded to Mary as an earthly father.  Nevertheless, Joseph was a caring and protective foster-father to Joseph, taking on faith that this was in fact a special child – God in the flesh.

But just as we learned on Christmas day, the sign with which the shepherds were to recognize Jesus consisted of an ordinary manger and ordinary swaddling cloths on an ordinary Baby.  As a human child, Jesus did not use His divine power, for He had not come to glorify Himself but to take our place and to save us.

This story is the one “dot” that connects the dot of His lowly birth with the dots of his ministry, passion, death, resurrection and ascension.  This shows that He was no mere man who arrived at a “god complex” in his early thirties, nor was He a magical child, God playing at being a child.  We see clearly that …

1.  Growing Up a Lowly Man
2.  Special in Obedience and Service
3.  To Give Us Righteousness 


  1. Growing Up a Lowly Man

Luke records these events, probably having interviewed Mary, for He says, Luke 1:3 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.  Nevertheless, what He writes is inspired, and does not follow the expectations of sinful man.

While many expected that the Messiah to come was going to be a kingly conqueror, Isaiah foretold that He would be a suffering servant, as we see in one of the more familiar passages, Isaiah 53:1-3

1Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Human imagination would say that Jesus must have been something special.  Fanciful traditions have him bringing wounded birds back to life and magically turning one thing into another.  But the fact is, He came to take your place, and to be like you.  Galatians 4:4-5 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Hebrews 4:15 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

So He wasn’t anything special to look at.  We might think that His holiness would be conspicuous, but let me ask you, “Would you know real perfection in life, in word and deed, if you saw it?  Would any of us sinners know it?”  Probably not.

Notice Mary here in our text. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Quite clearly, Mary wasn’t very happy with Jesus.  But who was the sinner?  Jesus or Mary?  Jesus clearly shows who was in the wrong when He said, 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?”

So even though Jesus was holy, He was not conspicuous.  He was not glorious.  He was humble, lowly.  He was living as one of us.

2.  Special in Obedience and Service

Jesus was born sinless, spiritually alive, holy and loving God perfectly. What would he have been like?  Born an infant, as He grew up he would have grown to know the world in which we live, as well as the true and living God, in whatever way God revealed Himself.

So we meet Him here as a student of God’s word, according to His human nature.

This doesn’t take way from the fact that He is God Himself, come down from heaven, as He himself said, John 6:38 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  To which the Jews reacted.  John 6:42  42They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”   But Jesus persisted, John 6:46 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.

But even in declaring that He came down from Heaven, Jesus again emphasizes that it was not to be glorified, but to serve.  Jesus didn’t come to be only a glorious example to us, but also a substitute for us.

Just as one man brought sin into the world, one MAN would provide the remedy for sin.  Paul puts it this way in Romans 5:17 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul underscores the exchange: 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

3.  To Give Us Righteousness

So that we might become the righteousness of God.

Do you have the righteousness of God, so that you can know God and fellowship with God?  On our own, no, but it is the righteousness of God that Jesus was living out all during his life.

He did his chores.  He learned His lessons.  He learned His father’s trade of carpentry.

In one clip of the movie, The Nativity, that I saw, Mary wonders out loud what Jesus would do or say to make it clear that He was special.  But holiness isn’t seen in doing something “holy” it is shown in doing ordinary things, the things we do every day, in a holy way.

At work Jesus served God in faith and His neighbor in love.  He put honest effort into what he made as a carpenter.  He gave a full day’s work for His day’s wages.  He didn’t envy somebody else who might be more wealthy.  Regardless of how difficult His boss or his customer, He gave the same effort for everyone – out of love for them and for God.

He dealt with the frustrations of life with love and charity.  He kept an even head and emotions in the face of irritations that would leave us mumbling under our breath or striking out verbally – or worse

As a child, he took responsibility, but was also submissive to his parents, as we can see in our lesson for today.

This is his active obedience, keeping the obedience that every man, every human being, owes God, but cannot deliver.

He came to earth to do this.  He also came to do what was specially asked of Him by God the father, to do what none of us have been asked to do, to pay for the sins of the world.  This is His “passive obedience”

What gives it away is in verses 48b-50: His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. Jesus made clear who was His true father by His choice of what He considered “His Father’s house.”

Sinners as they were, and limited in their spiritual insight, Mary and Joseph still didn’t get it.  Jesus’ disciples were the same way when He explained that He would die and rise again from the dead.  It didn’t make sense.

But for your sake and for mine, He accomplished it nevertheless.  For your sake and mine, our Savior, though God Himself, was “just” an obedient man, so that by faith, you can be counted obedient before God.  By faith you are wonderful husband, loving wife, dutiful children, bearing in every way the righteousness of God.  AMEN.

By |2018-12-28T16:20:39-07:00December 28th, 2018|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Whole Story of Christmas

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The Full Story- of Christmas

John 1:1-18

Dear fellow redeemed: Take up your bulletins or your Bibles and follow through this text with me. Luther, whose sermon on this text for Christmas Day ran over 50 printed pages called it “the most important of all the Gospels of the church year.” (Lenker, Baker, I:171) For everything is bound together here from the creation and the Trinity through the atonement, the resurrection, and our life now in the church militant. I promise I won’t be so exhaustive as Luther (even if I were capable of it). But as a text it is like a diamond mine of which I have before held up one or two gems, and now I hope we can look at the riches all together.

John 1:1–2 (CSB) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. If these words are reminiscent of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” then you are tuned into God’s word through John. For the same God speaks today through His prophet Moses and through His apostle John.

We are talking of the Word here, the LOGOS, the full and complete revelation of God.

He was in the beginning.  Already at the beginning of the universe, he was there and therefore without beginning or end.

And the Word was with God. He is everlastingly together with God – as one person of the trinity.

And the Word was God. He is no less divine than the other persons of the Holy Trinity.

He was in the beginning with God. There has been no change in Him or the fact that He is God the Son

Now come with me to the last verse of the text. There mustn’t be any misunderstanding about whom we are talking. John 1:16–18 (CSB) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.

Moses and all the law with its sacrifices and ceremonies was a faithful picture and shadow of Christ. But Jesus Christ is the One who has brought grace and truth. The baby in Mary’s tummy was God. The baby who lay in the manger and was cared for by a young mommy was God. The man who hung naked on the shameful cross was God. The body in the grave was God’s body – in the grave until with all the power of God He struck death the death-blow and rose from the tomb. It is a man who is God who ascended to the throne of David and enlightens us with grace and truth – unmerited atoning love, and the truth to which our faith clings.

The body and blood of this man Christ that is present, distributed, and received by us in His holy supper is the body and blood of God.

It just takes John a little while to get there, so let’s go back, take his hand, and let him lead us.

John 1:3–5 (CSB) All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life,, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. There is nothing in the universe that came into being without Him. There is One God, and only through this second person of the Trinity did God create the world. There is no other creator.

And life came through Him. Physical life surely, and also eternal life, but the life that is crucial for us is the life that gives light. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. This is the life that eliminates spiritual darkness.  It is the life of faith so that with it the littlest child sings “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Away in a Manger” and knows truth about divinity, theology, and salvation – knows Christ, in fact.  All this goes on while the most brilliant minds are in the dark. ONLY Jesus gives light to men. There is no other source. This is why the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. Without faith there is no light.

John 1:6–8 (CSB) There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.

To emphasis that Jesus is the only light of man, John (the apostle) tells us about John (the baptizer). Now John the Baptizer was a preacher. John preached down mountains, preached valleys full and made roads out of them, so to speak. He and every faithful prophet, apostle, evangelist, minister, teacher, and every mom and dad teaching their children could point at Jesus so that Jesus shines in our hearts. But it’s like pointing at the sun: It is the sun that gives light not us.

John repeats for emphasis, John 1:9 (CSB) The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.,

There are all kinds of light in the world, like the light of reason, the light of conscience, the light of learning, the light of history, but none of them can enlighten the heart of man and show us God, none except the Word, Jesus Christ.

John 1:10–11 (CSB) 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

While Christ is the only one who can give light to this dark world, not everyone saw the light. Taking a blind man out into the sunshine doesn’t help him see.

We live in a world, sadly, where the blind tell us that they see. We live in a world that is saturated with unbelief. The atheists and secularists know nothing of God, but act like they have been to the ends of the universe and in all dimensions spiritual and physical and have searched all time and space and can say for sure that there is no God, because they haven’t seen Him. The problem isn’t with the light, but with their blindness.

People right and left reject Christ and the Word whenever the Word is not what they want to hear. People think that the light is in their thoughts and feelings and inclinations and moods. But they are blind.

But this is a light that also opens blind eyes, so John goes on: John 1:12–13 (CSB) 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

The Life that is the Light of the World gives Light and LIFE. My parents gave me life, so I am their child. The Word gives life and He is God, so we are children of God, believing in Him.

Our faith was not our work, or the work of any man, but God’s work. People don’t believe because they were born to believers, or related to believers, or because we give super-good explanations or sermons or are are extra-good at converting people. People come to faith because of the word of God, coming from the Word of God, Who IS God. And who is this? Christ incarnate, Christ in the flesh. John 1:14 (CSB) 14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word who created the universe, the One who is God and the perfect expression and revelation of God was born on a day and at a place imperfectly known (I can’t say it was Dec. 25th) but nevertheless a place on earth and at a moment in the history of the world. And His glory, his giving off of light, was seen by John and others. It was glory of the only One who could really bring life and light into the world. And it came in the form of grace and of truth.

In Christ we see the undeserved, unmerited, but perfect love of God. We see it in His state of humiliation, as Paul says, Philippians 2:8 (HCSB)

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.

In Christ we have the truth about ourselves and our need for righteousness. In Christ we have the truth about the true and living God: Eternally Three persons and one divine essence.

What fools people are to turn to idols, to counterfeits. Every age has them. Baal or Ashtoreth, Zeus or Apollo, Science, Reason, the Enlightenment, Licentiousness, Government, Great Men, and Mankind itself have all taken the place of light and have brought darkness and blindness.  Even John underscored that there is no other who is the source of life, hope, and salvation.

John 1:15 (CSB) 15 (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’ ”)

He is the everlasting light.

John 1:16–18 (CSB) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.

The law of Moses, like John, was good, but good because it pointed alone to the One who is the everlasting light.

Dear ones, we are gathered together today and hope and joy because there on that first Christmas Day a Savior was born to you, Christ, the anointed man, the Lord, the Word, and the infinite God.  No less than God the creator chose graciously to become also a creature so that He could redeem His creatures.

He is the everlasting light who has brought light to you in the form of faith and forgiveness.  May you ever live in the light!


By |2018-12-28T13:50:14-07:00December 27th, 2018|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Rooted in Reality – The Birth of Christ

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The Reality of the Incarnation

Luke 2:1–14 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14         Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace,
Good will toward men.

1.  This Day and No Other
2. This Day THE Savior

Dear fellow redeemed: The portion of our text which we consider this evening is verse eleven. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Actually my emphasis is going to be even narrower than that. My text for this Christmas Eve is simply “this day.”


If you listen to a lot of traditional Christmas carols, you are bound to hear a number of them entitled simply “Hodie,” or in a longer form “Hodie Christus Natus Est.” Hodie is Latin and it means “today” or “this day.”

This is important to us because “today” is a dimension of reality.  Nobody can be two places at the same time, so the declaration of the angels was a declaration of the reality of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling the prophecies. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. On this day and at this place our Savior from sin was born. God was in the flesh, incarnate.

I emphasize this because in this postmodern age, the Christmas story is often treated as <just> a story. To our jaded age there isn’t TRUTH, so much as different stories that have not truth, but validity, which is something less. This allows people to be all “Christmasy” without taking it seriously, without seizing the truth of it all by faith. They really live like none of this is true.

But truth isn’t all slippery and changeable like that. Truth is hard and “crunchy” so that other things like our lives and our ideas have to bend around it.

It doesn’t get any harder than where the law says that anyone who sins is damned, that is, cast off by God for eternity. The law of God isn’t malleable, and Psalm 5 says “God hates all who do wrong.” Yikes!

But fortunately, just as truthful is the good news – not setting the law aside, but revealing the mystery of salvation, what we can’t know without being told: While anyone who sins is damned, Jesus took the place of anyone, everyone, and lived without sin. Jesus took the place of anyone, everyone, and in our place He made satisfaction for the sins of the world.

This is because unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour.


Do you know what an alibi is? If a crime took place at 7pm on Tuesday at First National Bank of Lombard, and you were known to be in Peoria, then you have an alibi.  You couldn’t have committed the crime because the TRUTH is that you were at this other place at the same time. You see, time is one dimension of truth.


So it is in the context of these truth statements that the angels tell us WHO is born in the City of David on this day. It is the Savior. “A Savior Christ the Lord” is specific and reveals Jesus as the Christ, the one anointed and chosen to be the Savior of mankind.

What does “Savior” mean? It means “rescuer,” someone who removes us from danger to safety, from certain death and destruction to life. The implication is that while we are helpless the rescuer steps in to deliver us.

There is only one Savior, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the One chosen by God to be the Savior of the world. There is only one who is both God and man, God incarnate so that He could do what no other son of Eve could ever do – live perfectly, die on purpose, and rise triumphantly. Jesus Himself later proclaimed, John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The truth is not what people feel it is, feel it should be, nor is it what they want it to be.  Don’t buy this rubbish that everybody worships the same God. That’s as false as it is to say that someone can be two distant places at the same time. It is a denial not only of the truth of Scripture but of the nature of reality and of truth itself.

If God is one thing, He isn’t what He is not.  That “philosopher speak” to say that Jesus can’t be divine and not divine at the same time.  He can’t be our only rescuer, and there be other rescuers.

The declaration of the angels is that the divine Christ Child was born THERE, in Bethlehem, THEN on THAT DAY. He has left an impact upon this world that has continued despite the best efforts to pretend otherwise, because he is Christ the Lord. His word and command has brought people to faith, changed them, and changed the world wherever His name is hallowed.

Now, to some people this seems fantastical.  You know what else seems fantastical to many people – something as certain as our own death. It’s too much to wrap our brains around. But the day is coming in which these two realities WILL converge, for at our death we will stand before the Christ.  The Christ who lives, and who gives you life even in the midst of death.

Your hope of salvation depends not upon wishful thinking but on the historical reality.










This is most certainly true.

By |2018-12-27T17:27:54-07:00December 27th, 2018|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mary’s Conundrum – and Ours

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Mary’s Conundrum – and Ours
Advent 4 – December 23, 2018

Luke 1:39–55 (CSB)

39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah 40 where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! 43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!”

46 And Mary said:
My soul praises the greatness of the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has looked with favor
on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and his name is holy.
50 His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.
51 He has done a mighty deed with his arm;
he has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he spoke to our ancestors.


Dear fellow redeemed:  How many words to you see in a year?  How many do you hear?  Words! Words! Words! And how many can you believe?  You don’t even have to be very cynical to expect to be lied to. It is an important thing in our lives to distinguish between what is the word of God, and therefore absolutely true, and what is merely human opinion or (worse yet) deceit.

And what about unique mystical experiences?  I don’t know exactly how the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, but I’ve known people who have claimed to hear God speak to them, or even to be visited by an angel, and it was false and deceitful.  They clearly did not hear God nor were they visited by an angel, because what they said was both contrary to Scripture and demonstrably untrue.

In the case of Mary – and Zechariah a few months earlier – they evidently had no question at all that they were confronted by an angel, a messenger of the Lord.  But in both cases they were confronted by seemingly unbelievable messages.  Zechariah was told that his wife, old and barren, would conceive and bear a son, and Mary was told something even more unbelievable, that she, a virgin, would conceive and bear a son who would be called holy, the Son of God.

Both were confronted with words – the words of God.  Mary believed the message.  Zechariah did not until later.

Move ahead a few months and Mary is in Judea to visit Elizabeth.  The word of God came again, only this time it was through Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! 43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!

Notice that the message of the Holy Spirit included also the blessing upon Mary – and praise for her –  who believed God’s promise to her through the angel, Gabriel.

Every year you hear the words of God in the account of Christ’s nativity, and so do countless others, because as much as people try to secularize Christmas, the story is just too huge to miss.  What people hear are the words of God because the Holy Spirit inspired them in the prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostles and Evangelists in the New Testament.  2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out [inspired] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Scripture contains its own claims of inspiration; we call that the internal evidence. This is where the prophets say, “Thus says the Lord,” or as in Mary’s case the messenger of God appears. We see it when Paul says, 1 Corinthians 2:13 (CSB) 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

The external evidence is that we see the truth of Scripture played out, as when the prophecies are fulfilled, dozens in the case of Jesus, but also Daniel’s account of the empires that would come in the Middle East. It also includes the correct depictions of history and of human character.

Nevertheless, the conviction that Scripture is the word of God is something the Holy Spirit Himself works in the hearts of believers. What we have here is God’s word, given on Sinai, given through the prophets, given through the apostles who recorded the very words of Christ.

In the account of the nativity, the birth of Christ, you hear the words of God.

With His words from the prophets, evangelists and apostles, He Himself tells you of the calamity that sin has brought on the human race – the sin of Adam that doomed us to be born alienated from God, and the sin of each person because we are born sinners.

He will tell us of the infinite grace and mercy that moved Him to become one of us so that He could be our redeemer, making satisfaction for the sins of all.  He became one of us.  He was “incarnate.”  He was born a human being, in the flesh and body of a human being.  He is God from eternity, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and man, born of the virgin, Mary.

These are the words that were brought to Mary, and Elizabeth spoke God’s own blessing upon her, blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

The same goes for you.  Hear, believe, and you are blessed, for Jesus Himself said, Luke 11:28 (ESV) 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”


By |2018-12-22T17:35:27-07:00December 22nd, 2018|Sermons, Uncategorized|0 Comments